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It's Time for GOP Cong. Roskam to Go

GOP Trump Enabler Peter Roskam—Show Him the Door in 2018 January 9, 2018

The D.C. Beltway, indeed, the whole country is “shocked, shocked” by Michael Wolff’s recently released “tell all” book, “Fire and Fury.” This book is full of interviews with more than 200 Trump campaign and White House aides. Many of them have joined Sec. of State Rex Tillerson in calling Donald a “moron” and then some (NY Daily News, Schladebeck & Otis, 1/03/2018). And what’s Donald’s tweeted answer to such charges? Why, he’s “a very stable genius (@ real DonaldTrump, 4:30 AM—Jan 6, 2018).” If you live in grey-matter deficient Donald’s “alternate universe,” this response is a “no brainer (pun intended).”

It’s fun to enjoy this book’s juicy details. However, let’s not be diverted by this. Anyone who followed the Trump campaign and this “stable genius” since his inauguration should not be surprised. What must concern us most has to be getting rid of Demagogue Donald’s primary enablers, the GOP-dominated House and Senate. These two chambers have have voted in near lockstep to support Trump’s anti-middle class programs. These include trying to weaken Obamacare and passing the awful top 1% tax cut heist. The GOP House and Senate attitude has been, “let us pass our right- wing reactionary programs, which billionaire Donald supports. As long as this simpleton can sign whatever we send to him, all will be well.” Under this “reasoning,” any insane tweets or attacks on our democratic institutions by Demagogue Donald must be ignored. It’s “party over country.” The public, however, strongly opposes Trump and his lackey GOP Congress. Trump has record dumpster ratings in the 30% range. Voters prefer Democratic candidates for Congress by a wide 11.6% margin (see fivethirtyeight.com). By a 23% margin, respondents in a PPP (Public Policy Polling) Poll say that they are less likely to vote for a member of Congress who supports the recently passed tax cut, 49%-26% (shareblue.com, Chapman, 12/14/2017). Democrats need to flip a net 24 “Red” seats “Blue” to retake the House. Voters want an end to “Team Red’s” regressive tax cutting, its attacking Social Security and Medicare, and going after Obamacare. One of those GOP legislators who supported the 1% tax scam and repealing Obamacare is Representative Peter Roskam. In Campaign 2018, we must show him the door.

Sixth-term GOP Congressman Peter Roskam (57) currently represents Illinois’ 6th Congressional District, CD. The post-2010 reconfigured IL 6th is located in the west and far northwest Chicago suburbs. The IL 6th consists mostly of DuPage County and spills into Cook, Kane, Lake, and McHenry Counties (chicagotribune.com, Skiba & Eltagouri, 2/04/17). The 6th includes elegant railroad commuter towns such as Hinsdale and Downers Grove, as well as Barrington Hills’ country manors. Part of Naperville is in this district, as well as Wheaton, Winfield, Crystal Lake, and part of Palatine. Besides suburbs, the heavily populated 6th contains the IL Technology and Research Corridor, one of suburban Chicago’s biggest employment hubs. The 6th’s Oak Brook contains Ace Hardware and McDonald’s 80-acre Hamburger University campus. Wheaton College, known as the “evangelical Harvard,” claims alumnus Billy Graham (Barone & CQ 14 Political Almanacs).

Naperville has a median household income of $100,000, more than double the statewide average, with 65% of its residents having a college bachelor’s degree or higher. Other areas of the 6th are also upper-middle-class. Politically, DuPage County and the other 6th areas were initially rocked-ribbed GOP in opposition to Chicago’s Democratic City Hall. However, during the 1990’s, the 6th’s voters became less GOP and “swingier” when that party became more socially conservative. The 6th has become more diverse with over 17% of DuPage County’s population now foreign-born. There are sizeable Asian communities in the 6th and the Hispanic population has slowly grown. In 2008, Obama won the 6th by 3 points. Romney won the 6th by 8 points in 2012, but Hillary beat Donald here by 7 points in 2016 (Barone & CQ 2014, Nir, “Daily Kos Elections by congressional district for 2016 and 2012”). The most recent 12/2017 Cook Partisan Voting Index (PVI) gives “Team Red” an anemic R+2 score (Cook, @ Matt Glassman312-Dec 19 2017).

Hinsdale, Il native Peter Roskam was a high school varsity gymnast. After receiving an undergraduate degree from the University of Illinois, Roskam taught history and government in the Virgin Islands from 1983-1985. From 1985-1986, Roskam worked for TX GOP Cong. Tom DeLay as a legislative assistant for health care and education. DeLay, a corrupt GOP wheeler-dealer, became House Majority Whip in 1995 and House Majority Leader in 2002. After his stint with DeLay, Roskam was an aide for IL 6th CD Cong., GOP stalwart Henry Hyde from 1986-1987. Hyde was the author of the amendment bearing his name that barred federal funding for abortion unless the life of the woman was at stake, or the pregnancy arose from rape or incest. Hyde led the House’s 1998-1999 impeachment proceedings against Bill Clinton, despite having carried on his own extra-marital affair.

From 1987-1993, Roskam directed a charitable organization his father had founded (See CQ &Barone 14). Roskam practiced law with a politically well-connected firm, making a high six-figure salary. Roskam won a seat in the IL State House where he served from 1992-1998. From 2000-2006, Roskam served in the IL State Senate, and was the GOP minority floor whip and leader from 2003-2006. In that body, he served with then State Senator Barack Obama (Barone & CQ 14, blogs.chicagotribune.com, 6/22/06).

When Cong. Hyde decided not to run for a 17th term in 2006, Roskam ran to succeed him. Hyde endorsed his former intern and made sure that Roskam had no primary opposition. Conservative Hyde stated that Roskam “thinks the way he (Hyde) thinks.” The general election between Roskam and Dem. Tammy Duckworth, an Iraqi War Army helicopter pilot who had lost both legs in that conflict, was one of the most closely watched contests. In 2006, although Democrats took back the House that they had lost in 1994, GOPer Roskam won by two points (“Elections 2006,”CNN. com). Since then, Roskam has coasted to re-election, winning by margins ranging from 16%-34% (dailyherald.com, 11/05/08, rollcall.com, 11/17/11, elections.il.gov, 11/04/14, elections.il.gov, 11/08/16). Duckworth is now IL’s junior U.S. Senator.

Since his House election, Roskam has been considered one of the GOP’s “bright young stars” and has risen quickly. In his second term, he received a coveted post on the powerhouse tax writing Ways and Means Committee, where he currently sits. This committee also handles health care policy (CQ & Barone 14, 115th Cong. At Your Fingertips). In his third term, Roskam became Chief Deputy Whip to then Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and served in that post from 2011-2014. From 2015-2016, Roskam sat on the Select Benghazi Committee, the witch hunting group that grilled Hillary. That outfit uncovered the fact that Hillary had used a private server at the State Dept., the issue that probably cost her the election (See 114th Cong. At Your Fingertips, Clinton, H., “What Happened”). Roskam is a member of the Republican Study Committee (RSC), the most conservative bloc and dominant force within the House Republican caucus (CQ14).

Cong. Roskam was praised by many fellow “Team Red” members as “a good listener and consensus builder (CQ & Barone 14).” However, because Roskam listens well and is not a Freedom/”Freedumb” Caucus fire breather, doesn’t make him a “moderate.” Roskam’s “consensus building” among GOPers, where the choices are extreme right plus or extreme right “ultra plus,” don’t make him a “moderate.”

From 2008-2012, Roskam voted with his hard- right party 95.6% of the time (CQ 14). In the age of Trump, Roskam voted with Demagogue Donald 93.1% of the time. One of the few times Roskam went against Donald was when he voted against raising the debt limit to extend government funding and against relief for Texas Hurricane Harvey victims (fivethirtyeight.com1/03/18). Cong. Roskam is callously consistent. On 1/15/2013, he voted against disaster relief for East Coast Hurricane Sandy victims (govtrack.us). In 2006, Roskam called climate science “junk science.” In 2013, the League of Conservation Voters (LCV) gave Roskam an environmental rating of 4% and a lifetime score of 10% (propublica.org, lcv.org,electionmeter.com). From 2010-2016, anti-regulatory/anti-climate change Koch Industries gave Roskam at least $47,000 (OpenSecrets.org, 2010, 2012, 2016, U.S. House, Campaign Contributions Roskam Campaign 2014).

Roskam opposes abortion except in cases where the life of the mother is at risk. Unlike his predecessor Henry Hyde, he makes no exceptions for cases of rape or incest (Koehler, webarchive.org, 9/28/07). Roskam has a “D” rating from NORML for voting against cannabis/marijuana issues. He opposes veterans having access to medical marijuana even if recommended for them by their VA doctors and even if this drug is legal in their state of residence (norml.org). He voted against a minimum wage increase and the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act (tumbler.com). He opposed Obamacare from the start, voted repeatedly to repeal it, and voted for the 5/2017 House bill to repeal health care reform which later died in the Senate. Roskam opposed expanding CHIP, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (washingtonpost.com). Roskam stated his opposition to comprehensive immigration reform and does not support amnesty. When Donald signed an executive order suspending entry of foreign nationals from seven Muslim majority nations, Roskam called its “implementation bumpy,” but said he supported “the underlying theme (chicagotribune.com, NPR, Norris & Siegel, chicagotribune.com,9/23/06). He is for tax cuts. After voting for the 1% tax scam, he stated that the “middle class is crumbling under the current tax code (“IL News Network, McCaleb, Bishop).” Roskam vocally supported eliminating the independence of the Office of Congressional Ethics. This office was created after lobbyist Jack Abramoff, a buddy of Roskam’s mentor Tom DeLay, committed infractions resulting in the imprisonment of three House members. A huge public outcry stopped this attempted House GOP move (“Northwest Herald,” 1/03/17, Cassata).

Roskam has cancelled town hall and other meetings with constituents angry over his repeal Obaamcare stand (See Chicagotribune.com, Skiba & Eltagouri, 2/04/17). Seven Democrats are running in their primary to challenge him, several of them cancer survivors. All of his rivals are attacking his health care views. Roskam has helped weaken Obamacare with his voting for the 1% tax scam which repealed Obamacare’s key individual mandate requiring Americans to get health insurance. Yes, Roskam is in a very swingy district. He was the only IL GOP Congressman to win re-election in a district that went for Hillary (Skiba et al). However, he is a hefty fundraiser. As of 9/30/17, he has at least a $1.35 million war chest. The Democrat with the most money in this race, Kelly Mazeski, has just $343,000 (Skiba, et al). GOP organizations and the Koch Brothers will pony up even more for Roskam as this race heats up. A super PAC tied to GOP Speaker Paul Ryan has already set up an office in Roskam’s district and in other vulnerable GOP ones to repeatedly target their supporters (“The Hill,” Kamisar, 1/04/08). Democrats must get behind their IL 6th CD winner and financially level the playing field for their nominee. They too must micro-target their 6th CD voters. Elections are, ultimately, won on the ground, not with generic polling surveys. And most important of all, on 11/06/2018, Democrats in the IL 6th and throughout the country must come out in droves. They must “Occupy the Polls” to take back the House and check Donald’s excesses. It is finally time to show Roskam and his friends the door.

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